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Stay In Hill Execution

[ 15 ] February 20, 2013 |

Yesterday, I wrote about the pending execution of Warren Hill, who Georgia was on the verge of executing despite the fact that he had an IQ of 70. In another example of the glories of federalism, the Court’s 2002 Atkins precedent has been rendered virtually meaningless because it has permitted states to set standards for proving mental impairment that are essentially impossible to meet.

30 minutes before he was to be executed, however, the 11th Circuit issued a stay to consider the issue further. I doubt that Hill has a good chance of winning despite the particularly egregious facts of the case (the experts Georgia used have recanted their earlier assertions that Hill was mentally competent), but we’ll see. The Georgia appeals court has also issued a stay to consider the new lethal injection protocol Georgia is using.

Comments (15)

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  1. c u n d gulag says:

    Only a mentally and morally incompetent/impaired nation, would approve of executing people – especially those who are “mentally impaired.”

    But, then, I remember the names I was called less than a decade ago, when I said that the Iraq war was wrong, and that torture was ALWAYS wrong, and that both were immoral, and I think that maybe it’s me who’s “mentally impaired,” because I keep hoping for “the better angles of our nature” to shine through.

    Or, maybe I’m just insane, because… Well, you all know the definition of insanity…

  2. cdernem says:

    Was his EQ ever measured?

  3. rea says:

    If they stopped executing the mentally impaired, the insane, and children, they’d have no one left they were allowed to execute.

  4. Joe says:

    Atkins cited a rule applied in an earlier case (written by Thurgood Marshall) on setting guidelines on insanity. The problem here seems to be the failure of the federal courts to oversee the process since the doctors recanted.

    To be totally honest, they say it is a clear case of “mild retardation.” I’m fine with drawing a strict line (I’m against the death penalty anyway) but – putting aside that he killed someone in prison after already being there for murder – I’m not shocked that this is seen as not a totally egregious case by the federal courts. Experts also disagreed in the Texas case. I would lean toward life here myself but that’s the other side.

    GA also is an outlier — it is the only state that uses such a strict test. So, “virtually meaningless” … tad much.

  5. PSP says:

    An IQ (for what questionable value IQ has) of 70 is at worst borderline retarded, but probably low normal, at least to the MSWs I used to work with. It would seem that you would have to apply the absolute broadest interpretation of Atkins for it to apply to this guy.

    Am I missing something other than an admirable desire to use every available tool to fight the death penalty?

    • Vance Maverick says:

      I was going to ask something along these lines as well. Is it even common for people’s IQs to be known? (Mine has never been measured, for example.) The question of competency seems very slippery, and I can’t see how IQ helps.

      • Joe says:

        They have experts to determine such things and IQ would seem to me be a factor when determining the level of competency warranting a certain punishment. IQ, e.g., factors in reasoning ability, yes?

        • Vance Maverick says:

          Not sure if the bit about “experts” was sarcasm, but yes, determining his IQ is not really a problem. My real worry is over the meaning of IQ. Is there a measurable “reasoning ability” such that below some crisp cutoff, individuals can’t be considered to understand their actions? (Yadda yadda.) Or is this used as just one factor in making a judgment?

    • Decrease Mather says:

      Lemiuex and the other LGMers are probably OK with the death penalty for Harvard grads, but they are supporting an argument that would effectively exclude most of the Daily Caller staff from the Chair.

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